Tony Pua loses appeal against Najib’s injunction over Shariah Bill claim

By Jonathan Edward
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua (left) and his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (right) speak to reporters outside the Court of Appeals in Putrajaya February 14, 2018. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

PUTRAJAYA, Feb14 — The Court of Appeals ruled against the application by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua to cancel an interim injunction granted by the High Court to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak against him.

Justice Datuk Yaacob Md Sam who led the three-man panel said Pua’s claims were based on “perception, hearsay and assumptions”, and the power to table a private member’s Bill is up to the Parliament Speaker.

“We are of the opinion that claims that RUU 355 was introduced under such circumstances are based on assumption.

“The standing order of the Dewan Rakyat outlines that any MP introducing a private members bill may do so and it is solely under the Speaker’s power,” he said.

RUU 355 is the Malay initials of the private member’s Bill tabled by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang seeking to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

The High Court had previously granted the injunction to prevent Pua from repeating allegations that Najib had abused his power by allowing the Bill as a distraction from issues related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The other judges in the panel today were Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Datuk Zaleha Yusof.

Yaacob added that the 1MDB had been scrutinised by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Police, the Public Accounts Committee, Attorney-General’s Chambers and Bank Negara Malaysia.

“The findings of these investigations are public knowledge... no criminal wrongdoing has been found. With this we find the plaintiff has satisfied the requirements for the injunction order,” he said.

Najib was represented by lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun today while Pua was represented by Gobind Singh Deo. Pua was present in court for the verdict but Najib was absent.

Pua said he was “not surprised by the verdict” but was shocked over the reason provided by the court but declined to elaborate.

Separately Hafarizam, outside the courtroom, reiterated that Pua’s claims of collusion between Barisan Nasional and PAS in RUU 355 was merely an assumption which had been repeatedly denied by Najib.

“Our client has always maintained that he had not in any way taken action to introduce the private member’s Bill and we are pleased with the court’s decision to maintain the injunction on the grounds that the points raised by the defendant would not hold up,” he said.

The injunction application, granted on August 4 last year, will remain in place until the case is over.

The Prime Minister had filed the suit on April 21 last year in his personal capacity against Pua over slanderous allegations the latter had made in a live video on Facebook concerning the tabling of RUU 355.

In his statement of claim, Najib, as the plaintiff, accused Pua of making the statement at the lobby of Parliament on April 6, which was recorded and uploaded by the defendant on his official Facebook page.